How can you tell it's fall? Just as the hurricane season dissipates we get more things to do ... indoors. This week the Alliance Cinema and the Absinthe House Cinematheque are unreeling film festivals with offerings for which it's well worth marking your calendars.
On the Beach the third annual Cinema of the Americas: Latin American and Caribbean Independent Film Festival includes a remarkable array of films from some impressive directors. Not only is the selection solid, but this is one festival that really has earned the right to call its samplings independent.
On Friday at the Colony Theater, two films from Mexico and one from the interesting former Portuguese colony of Curaçao open the fest; at the Alliance on the same night, Black God, White Devil, the first in a series of films from Brazil's Glauber Rocha is screening, followed by a Salvadoran movie called East of Hope Street. On Saturday the Alliance features more films from Rocha starting at 11:00 a.m. and a discussion with filmmakers at 1:00 p.m. Evening offerings include another film from Brazil and one from Honduras. On Sunday the intriguing documentary The Filmmaker of the Amazonas (Brazil), which was shot in 1913 at the height of the Amazonian rubber boom, screens; there's also an Ecuadorian selection, La Ciudad, and a movie from Colombia, Colombia Horizontal.
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On Monday look for a U.S. production, Luminarias, a humorous account of thirtysomething Latina women and their problems. Puerto Rico is highlighted on Tuesday with My Lucky Day, the first film from Santiago Pumarola, about a hapless day in the life of a file clerk. Wednesday is Caribbean night, with films from Trinidad and Tobago (Angel in a Cage), Jamaica (Dance Hall Queen), and maybe one of the most interesting of the fest's offerings, Corps Plonges, from Haiti. That film is repeated (as are others throughout the week) on closing night, Thursday, October 28, at the Alliance, along with a U.S. and Mexican co-production, Paulina, a docudrama of sorts about a woman sold off by her family as a child who returns as an adult to confront them, and the U.S. film Melting Pot. Screenings close out the festival at the Colony as well, including Miami-made films A Soulless Place and Un Gato Habanero as well as the film from Nestor Carbonell, Attention Shoppers (see "Night & Day," page 36). There are also opening- and closing-night parties, receptions, and discussions for those of you wanting even more. Call 305-534-7171 for more information on times and events, or see "Showtimes," page 69 for details.
On most given weeks in Miami, these extensive choices from the Latin and Caribbean world would be manna from heaven. But this week there's more. Untamed Hitchcock: An Alfred Hitchcock Retrospective is a superb attempt by the Mercury Theatre (a new offshoot of the Absinthe House), in conjunction with the Miami Light Project, to bring exciting film to the area. From October 21 through October 31 you can indulge yourself in some of Hitchcock's finest work, though -- thankfully -- not just his greatest hits. First up is a classic, The 39 Steps, one of Hitchcock's earliest thrillers, from 1935, with Peggy Ashcroft. The next two, on Friday and Saturday, are less-than-household-names, and that may be a good reason to catch them: Torn Curtain and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. On Sunday Joan Fontaine and Cary Grant turn up onscreen in Suspicion, from 1941, for which Fontaine won an Oscar. The 1942 film Saboteur screens Monday, and Shadow of a Doubt runs Tuesday. The last five films need no introduction, because all of them have made marks on American film in one way or another: Wednesday's Rope, Thursday's Strangers on a Train, Friday's Vertigo, Saturday's To Catch a Thief, and finally, on Sunday, October 31, Dial M for Murder. All films screen twice, at 8:00 and 10:00 p.m. For more information call 305-903-3456 or see "Showtimes" for details.
Now if only the organizers could spread out the goods next time: It's a shame to have to choose from such a wealth of film when the rest of the year is so dirt-poor.